Genre: Black Metal
Label: Pulverized Records
Awe may have existed since 2007 (according to their promo note), yet no one besides the band itself knew about their existence before 2015. The band’s members wish to keep their anonymity, without adopting any aliases, a fact not reprehensible, especially inside the aesthetic frames of the black metal scene – I for one still welcome mystery in black metal, regardless of its naivete. Anyhow, some of you may remember the band from this year’s “Moerae” 3-way split, in which they shone with the opening track (“Clotho”), presenting an extreme and chaotic facade, emphasizing the distillation of eerie mystagogy. Their debut, “Providentia” (released through Pulverized Records and boasting an excellent cover art by Viral Graphics) is essentially what will establish the band as a non-one-hit-wonder.
Let’s make clear from the beginning that the mental appropriation of the album is a difficult procedure, due to its unconventional and multi-leveled compositional and sonic structure. “Providentia” showcases a band that persists upon the path of long-winded forms, it being consisted of just 3 tracks/acts, each clocking above 15 minutes. Riffs here do not adapt the conventional role of the guide which will steadily tour the listener around; which is to say that only in few moments will they be the music’s backbone (“Actus Secundus” introductory part is an exception to this). On the contrary, the riffs meander with elegant dexterity, fading in and out in unexpected (for traditional black metal) moments, bringing to mind Deathspell Omega’s “Fas – Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum” (sans the death metal edge), as well as the more “intelligent” late 90’s norwegian scene moments. Despite their wayward structure, guitars are the pinnacle of this release, and the foremost reason for keep returning to it until you have processed it in a satisfying degree: excellent musicianmanship, a multitude of quality ideas, given with (perhaps a tad too much) parsimony – there were riffs which I would like to see being further developed, or just being a bit longer in duration. The main guitar influences seem to be the dysharmonic exercises of Deathspell Omega (and through them Ved Buens Ende), the serpentine dexterity of second album and “Satanic Art” Dodheimsgard, as well as a palliative melodic edge in certain moments.
As far as the production is concerned, it is quite excellent, and certainly above what one expects from a band’s debut. The bass is audible throughout, drumming moves beyond the companion character that is so usual in black metal, and the few keyboards (mostly in the wastelands of the first track) add to the album’s otherworldly ambience. The vocals are on the harsher and more growling edge of the genre’s spectrum, without them being particularly special, while in certain moments, if one has the lyrics in view, one can grasp a Mikko Aspa influence, especially on how some syllables are devoured/not pronounced, in a sardonic way. Lyricwise, the album deals with the existential quest, seen through a philosophical/metaphysical prism; it surely falls to some expected orthodox pitfalls, but all in all what emerges is quite interesting.
“Do we truly see inside the tangling of the threads, or simply associate one end with another”. This sentence could well describe “Providentia”. Its nonconformist nature, the absence of “easy” for the listener starting points, makes this hypothetical listener wonder, even after many album sessions, if he truly grasps the record’s essence (if we accept that this exists as something graspable), or he will be endlessly wandering through a path flanked by mirage associations. Truth be told, the inability of grasping the album’s core, even now, after many listening sessions, makes me believe that it may well needed a bit more of cohesion, the only negative thing about it to be honest. A large part of “Providentia” may seem like a slightly disjoint collection of ideas to the first-time listener, a thing that tends to subside with time. It all boils down to a cantankerous album with a huge level of quality inspiration, and certainly one of 2015’s best black metal releases.